30% Of Those With Flu-Like Illnesses In Kochi Hospitals Are Covid Positive

More than 18 months after India grappled with the Omicron wave, two eminent health authorities are issuing a warning concerning the escalating Covid-19 cases in the country, attributed to the identification of the JN.1 sub-variant of Omicron.

In an exclusive interview with NDTV on Wednesday, Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan, Co-Chairman of the National Indian Medical Association Covid Task Force, disclosed that 30% of individuals with influenza-like symptoms tested positive for Covid within a span of approximately 24 hours in the Kochi region. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, former WHO chief scientist, also urged against downplaying Covid as a common cold, underscoring the ailment\’s enduring impacts, including an elevated risk of heart attacks, strokes, and mental health issues.

While both experts recognized the heightened transmissibility of the variant, they observed that it may not necessarily translate into a significant rise in hospitalizations, given India\’s substantial vaccination coverage. Dr. Swaminathan underscored the substantial enhancements in India\’s healthcare systems since the initial wave in 2020 and the more lethal Delta wave in 2021, signaling the nation\’s readiness to cope with an upswing in cases.

The JN.1 sub-variant has been identified in 21 cases to date, and Dr. Jayadevan remarked on a gradual increase in Covid cases over the past month. He suggested that, despite dominating the Covid landscape, the variant may not be responsible for a surge in hospitalizations. Dr. Swaminathan categorized JN.1 as a variant of interest and anticipated a rise in cases with expanded testing.

Both experts underscored the significance of preventive measures, with Dr. Jayadevan advocating for mask usage, particularly in crowded and enclosed spaces, and Dr. Swaminathan outlining symptoms of the new variant. They cautioned against underestimating the severity of Covid and highlighted the potential for enduring effects.

Regarding the pattern of spread, Dr. Jayadevan proposed that the variant might initially propagate in high-travel zones like Kerala and Goa, while Dr. Swaminathan emphasized the likelihood of the variant already circulating in the community by the time it is identified.

While recognizing the efficacy of vaccines, both experts acknowledged the potential necessity for boosters, particularly for the elderly and individuals with compromised immunity. Dr. Swaminathan expressed confidence in India\’s readiness, citing enhanced treatment protocols and preparedness in hospitals. She stressed the importance of regular mock drills to ensure a robust response across all states.

Scroll to Top